Moreover, it is significant that OFCCP has NOT found any federal contractor to have unlawfully discriminated based on an unnecessary degree or certification requirement. Rather, OFCCP’s now fifty-year audit record is proof that federal contractors have been heeding the advice, suggestions, and “Helpful Hints from Heloise” the speakers at this Roundtable discussion put forward.
In contrast, however, one speaker discussed his conclusions and it appears that closer review is needed to understand how the federal agencies have missed what he has uniquely found: “Our extensive data analytics on skills and job mobility finds that over 70 million U.S. workers skilled through alternative routes such as community colleges, military service, partial college completion, workforce training programs, and on-the-job learning are undervalued in the job market,” reported Byron Auguste, CEO of Co-Founder of Opportunity@Work. Mr. Auguste used the acronym “STARs” for workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes. STARS are disproportionately Black, Hispanic, and rural, he said.
“Arbitrary barriers at companies are holding back STARs, and [employers] can help STARs overcome them,” Auguste stated. [NOTE: For context, the civilian labor force in the United States is about 165 million workers (rounding up). “70 Million” “undervalued” discriminatees limited by “artificial” barriers to employment would be over 42% of the current civilian U.S. labor force]. For the very jobs that employers are scrambling to fill, “there are millions of STARs knocking around the outside wanting to work for those companies in those roles” in addition to workers already employed at these companies, “and they could do those jobs,” Auguste pointed out.
“Our country is currently leaving great talent on the sidelines. Scaling a skills-first approach to our hiring and promoting will help us to be a great country for years to come,” according to OneTen CEO Maurice Jones. Seventy-nine percent of jobs paying $60,000 or more and seventy-one percent of jobs paying $40,000 or more require a four-year degree, according to Jones. However, among the workforce aged 25 and above, about 76 percent of Black workers and about 83 percent of Latinx workers, and about 66 percent of white workers do not yet have a four-year degree, according to Jones. Therefore, “[w]hat you effectively have is a credential that is literally a systemic barrier to entry to the middle class,” Jones noted, adding “we are literally keeping genius on the sideline because of a credential.”
“That is why we [at OneTen] chose to focus on [establishing and scaling] a skills-first culture,” he said, noting that it is smarter for businesses and communities.
“Creating pathways for more representative tech talent starts with employers who value hands-on experience and build systems to screen people in,” explained Laura Maristany, Vice President of External Affairs with Bitwise Industries. “We do this by powering technology solutions across sectors with underestimated talent proving that human-driven approaches are not only the right thing to do but are also profitable.” A skills-based approach is anchored in equity, she said, noting that Bitwise Industries pairs senior developers with apprentices on projects to help solve and build digital infrastructure in their communities.
CEOs should instruct their partners in HR that not every job description needs a degree requirement, recommended Emily M. Dickens, Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management. (SHRM). In April, SHRM issued a report highlighting the rise of alternative credentials that do not include a traditional college degree or professional license.
The panelists also described success stories involving the use of skills-based hiring and alternative credentials in talent acquisition.